Hungry Girl in STL on April 20

Lisa Lillien AKA Hungry Girl returns to St. Louis on Wednesday, April 20, 7:00 p.m. at the Jewish Community Center. It’s a FREE appearance, but you need to obtain an advance ticket.

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Lisa will be in town for a Jewish Book Festival event and will be promoting her newest book Clean & Hungry. Important note: “Snacks will be served.”

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Here is my interview with Lisa recorded in fall of 2012 for the Food Talk STL radio show, just ahead of an appearance at a Dierberg’s store.

 

In the interview, Lisa mentions throwing out a first pitch at a Cardinals game. (Hmmm. There’s a day game against the Cubs at Busch Stadium on her appearance date. Maybe she could enjoy a repeat performance?)

For (free) tickets to see Lisa on 4/20 at the J, you can call 314-442-3299 OR you can send an email to mjkambal@jccstl.org OR you can stop by the box office at the JCC Arts and Education building. Location is 2 Millstone Campus Drive, St. Louis 63146.

For more info about Lisa at her Hungry Girl website, click HERE.

 

 

 

 

Cards Spring Games on BPV TV

Ballpark Village has one humongous TV screen. It’s not only ginormous, it also has a bright, clear picture.

BPV screen

For many of the Cardinals spring training games from Florida, four of Ballpark Village’s venues will be offering a $10 Burger + Beer special.

You can enjoy this deal at Budweiser Brew House, Cardinal Nation, Drunken Fish and Fox Sports Midwest Live! (FSML! is the area with the big TV.) For ten bucks, you get any menu burger plus a pint of domestic beer. (For Drunken Fish, you can substitute a bowl for a burger.)

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Also—tickets to regular season Cardinals games will be given away each day the special deal is offered!

Here is the schedule for the Burger and Beer $10 special (with Cardinals baseball on TV). All games begin at noon, except the March 30 game which begins at 11:00 a.m.

Sunday, March 6 vs Nationals

Monday, March 7 vs Mets

Wednesday, March 9 vs Marlins

Friday, March 11 vs Braves

Monday, March 14 vs Twins

Friday, March 18 vs Tigers

Sunday, March 20 vs Marlins

Monday, March 21 vs Redsox

Wednesday, March 23 vs Marlins

Saturday, March 26 vs Nationals

Sunday, March 27 (Easter Sunday) vs Marlins

Monday, March 28 vs Mets

Tuesday, March 29 vs Nationals

Wednesday, March 30 vs Marlins.

For info about the Ballpark Village Spring Training Special, click HERE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Diner’s Dilemma: Something New or The Old Familiar?


Michael Pollan’s great 2006 book The Omnivore’s Dilemma asks the basic question: What should we have for dinner?

Ominivore

The St. Louis diner’s dilemma is: Where should we go for dinner?

(Caution: baseball similes and metaphors ahead.)

Often the choice is between a place that’s new or a place that has been in your restaurant rotation for some time. Actually, there are two kinds of new places.

First, places that have only been open for a few days/weeks/months. Second, restaurants that have been open for a while that you’ve never visited. They are new to you, like that unfamiliar shortstop for the Padres who makes a great play and when you look him up online you find he’s been in the bigs for 7 years.

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With the place that’s just recently opened you take a huge risk. The kitchen crew and the wait staff may not yet have their acts together. Employee turnover can be an issue in those early days. Even if the chef and/or owner has a good reputation, a new joint can be like that rookie outfielder just up from Memphis—3 for 4 with a home run one day, 0 for 4 with three strikeouts and an error the next.

The big upsides of patronizing a spanking new restaurant are: you’re supporting a new business at the time it most needs your support and you may discover a true gem whose virtues you can boast about to both online and IRL friends. Not unlike buying a Randal Grichuk jersey at the Cardinals team store last summer.

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With a place that’s a few years old but new to you, you can sift through online reviews and talk to chums to get an idea about what are “must try” dishes and which ones have been less than successful. A restaurant that has been open for a couple of years or more must be doing something right and making enough people happy to keep rolling, even if it’s not always getting attention from the foodie media. Comparable to that manager whose career record is right about .500 even though he’s never taken a team to the postseason.

The familiar place that you’ve visited numerous times over the years has much to offer. You know your way around the menu, you may be familiar with many staff members, you know which table or booth you prefer. But, like at Holiday Inn (supposedly), there are no surprises. (Okay, maybe the manager will surprise you with a free sample of a new dessert or wine, etc.) Generally, you know how things are going to go. Kind of like Yadier Molina—you marvel at his defensive prowess, his hitting and (lately) his improved base running, but you are no longer surprised by his abilities.

St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina (4)

A downside of the familiar restaurant is that it, like Yadi, it can be costly. (You should note that, in some cases, the newer spots—especially those that have spent big on design and fixtures—can also be pricey.) Even at $15 million a year for Yadi, you know that you are getting value for your dollar. Similarly, a long-running old familiar place can require you to pony up some bucks. But you know it’s worth it.

Would you rather drop $70 for a dinner for two that’s just a bloop single or $110 for a dinner for two that’s a tape-measure homerun?

Typically, younger folks are the ones who crave new, fresh things in life while older people prefer to stick with things they know and love. This is why a 25-year-old will prefer today’s hits on radio to oldies. (Although even most 25-year-olds must surely be getting sick of All About That Bass by now. And most 60-year-olds have surely heard The Joker a sufficient number of times for this life.)

I encourage older folks to try something new when you get the chance. Enjoy the familiar places that consistently make you happy. But take a chance every now and then on something different. It’s like when the Cardinals play at an American League ballpark and use the designated hitter—you may or may not like it, but at least you’ve had a change of pace.

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At the same time, I encourage younger diners to patronize restaurants that have proved their mettle and delivered year after year. Like Yadi or Miguel Cabrera or Andrew McCutchen, these places have achieved a level of consistency that assures you are unlikely to be disappointed. They may cost a bit more. The other patrons may be older than you. But, like when Adam Wainwright starts for the Cardinals, you will be witnessing greatness.

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Photo credits…

Yadi: http://www.flickr.com/photos/27003603@N00/5886771536, http://photopin.com, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Cioppino: http://www.flickr.com/photos/69655432@N00/6566610871, http://photopin.com, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0

McCutchen: http://www.flickr.com/photos/27003603@N00/7185728251, http://photopin.com”>photopin, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Wainwright: http: http://www.flickr.com/photos/27003603@N00/14871796562, http://photopin.com, photopin, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

 

Cards in Playoffs Can Be Tough Time for Restuarants

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When you hear all the news touting the economic benefits to St. Louis of having the Cardinals in postseason play, remember your local independent restaurant.

When the Cards are on TV in the postseason, business is impacted. For sports bars and places within walking distance of Busch, there’s a huge upside. But for others, the damage can be significant.

What should a restaurant owner do? Here are a few ideas.

  1. Let your patrons know it’s okay if they check scores on their smart phones. Not that they wouldn’t anyway, but if you and your crew sanction such behavior, they are likely to feel more comfortable about doing it (and may return during future playoff games).
  2. Have at least one TV in the joint. You may not want to position it so every diner can watch, but for those who may want to keep up, an occasional glance can make them feel in touch. (I attended a beer dinner at PW Pizza during game 1 of last year’s World Series. A TV in the room allowed us to check on the game from time to time while enjoying the pizza and beer.) (Make sure you can get the Fox Sports 1 channel for games 2, 3, 4, 5 and 7.)
  3. Keep your servers aware of the game score so they can share that info with diners who are interested. (I recall a server at Bookbinder’s in Philly providing frequent updates on a Phillies-Astros NLCS game when we dined there in 1980.)
  4. Offer special catering packages to your patrons who want to throw playoff parties in their homes!
  5. Look for additional business on open dates. I’m not sure where the Giants and their traveling party are staying in STL (Westin? Ritz?), but they may want to go beyond their hotel and its environs for dinner this Friday night (and next Friday if the series goes beyond 5 games). Make sure the concierges/front desk crews at all major hotels know you’d welcome the business.

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For diners, a Cards playoff game may result in less demand for tables, even on a generally busy Saturday night.

In the long run, having our Cardinals in the NLCS and, maybe, in the World Series is a great thing for our city. Despite that silly Wall Street Journal piece last week, many people around the U.S. genuinely like the Cardinals. And because of their affection for the team, they are more likely to embrace our city and the entire region. And, as Martha Stewart might say, that’s a good thing.